Wallet?  Check.  Passport?  Check.  But, what about your pet?  Let’s be honest: Our pets are our people.  So (whether it’s time to move or vacation), why wouldn’t they come with?!

The reality is traveling with your favorite furry bestie can be tough: From the inconvenience and hassle of omitting just one required document to (justified) concerns over your pet’s physical and emotional safety… There’s a lot to be considered.  Not to mention, the dozens of other details you have to worry about when planning a move or a trip.  It follows, that making the decision to add a pet into the mix can seem downright overwhelming. 

Still, pet-friendly travel is growing (finally something not to hate the Millennial cohort over), yet, it remains complicated.  Which leads to the following question:

How can we make trips easier on pets, and humans too?

With that in mind, we asked two Campbell County pet gurus — Red Hills Veterinary Hospital pet pro, Dr. Valerie Warmuth, and Fur Kids Foundation Founder and President Ms. Mary Melaragno — to share their expert tips and tricks for hassle-free pet-friendly travel.

Here’s what Dr. Val  had to say:


Get GI-Friendly

Hank and FKF Founder and President Mary Melaragno, road-tripping.

Many pets suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) signs (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) while traveling.  I recommend packing a few cans or small bag of gastrointestinal cat or dog formula — available from your vet — to keep everyone comfortable.

Pheromones are your friend

Calming pheromones for dogs and cats are easy to travel with and can be used in carriers, vehicles, and hotel rooms without offending others.

Microchip your pet

And, keep your cell phone and contact information current with the company.  Many pets are lost while traveling.  They become startled in new places, get lost in new surroundings, and aren’t recognized by locals.  This will ensure (that) the local shelter or veterinarian can contact you.

Plan ahead

If you know your pet is anxious on trips, needs medication refills, or requires a special diet, speak with your veterinarian prior to leaving for prescriptions to keep in hand.

If you’re flying

Get your Health Certificate from your veterinarian within a week of travel.  This is required for interstate travel by the USDA/APHIS. 

Call ahead

Contact hotels and campgrounds to make sure your pets are welcome!

Year-round heartworm prevention

This medication also deworms your pets for intestinal parasites they may pick up from unfamiliar surroundings. 

Flea and tick prevention

If your pet contracts fleas from new places, they are at risk of developing tapeworms and/or skin irritation, allergic reactions, and skin infections.  Pets are able to contract the same tick-borne illnesses as humans (Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, etc.).   Additionally, you don’t want to bring home these unwanted guests!

Bring a pet first aid kit

There are great tips online for making your own or (you can) purchase one from your local pet store.

Mary: Things I do when traveling with my dog…

I always have my “Doggy Diaper Bag” stocked and ready to go – long distance or just to the park.  It has extra leashes, collars, dog treats, water bowl, water, and first aid items such as vet wrap, towels, etc.  

  If traveling a long distance in a vehicle, either have a kennel or a way to keep them from getting into the drivers’ seat.  If you have a runner, and don’t have a kennel, you can keep their leash on them.  Tie it to something in the vehicle so they can’t

escape.  (I’ve had a few rescue transports try to escape, it’s not fun!)

  I never ever, ever allow my dogs off leash in a new area or when we’re traveling.  Even the most well-behaved dogs can get scared and run off and get lost.

  Always make sure your pets identification is up-to-date.  Both microchip and their tag on their collar.  

  If having to stay at a hotel, ask ahead of time if they have breed or size restrictions.  We have giant breed dogs, so we have to make sure we can find a place that doesn’t have a size restriction.  We have found La Quinta to be very accommodating.  

  Pack enough food to last a few extra days than what you’re expecting to stay.  My girl has a sensitive belly so we can’t switch dog foods on her.  The last thing you want is to be in a car for a long time with a smelly dog…. or worse.  

  If you have a special needs dog, get a recommendation from your vet for a vet clinic in the area you’re traveling.  And let your vet know you’re traveling so they can give you pointers on making travel for your special needs pet safe.

  If you have a scaredy cat (or dog) with anxiety issues, visit with your vet about meds to make traveling more enjoyable for you or your pet.  You can also get things such as calming collars and Rescue Remedy.  One of our guys is on Prozac to help with his anxiety.  We use Feliway for one of our scaredy cats when he has to go to the vet. 

Where I go, Bob goes

I’m the proud human of a sometimes-crabby rescue tabby, A Fat Street Cat Named Bob (literally).  Together, we enjoy spending time with family and exploring new places.  For us, this means road-tripping and jet-setting between the 82717 and Casper or Denver, and onto various (not-so-exotic) domestic destinations like the Beach Cities of Los Angeles, California; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Trust me, it’s always smart to know the ins and outs of both your arrival and destination airports — as well as your carrier’s pet policy — before leaving home.

Know before you go

We strongly discourage having your pet travel by air in the cargo hold of a plane. It can be dangerous and stressful. Some animals aren’t suited for travel due to temperament, illness, or physical impairment. ~ The Humane Society

Federal agencies provide guidelines to help keep your animals as safe as possible and monitor any incidents that may come up.  That’s right, the government cares about the safety of your pet.

USDA policies also exist for this purpose, and dictate which pets can be brought onboard flights as baggage and which can be shipped as cargo.  Even the Department of Agriculture has a say when it comes to pets earning their wings, by mandating how and which animals can be transported.   

Ultimately, individual carriers have their own pet policies.  For example, United allows domestic cats, dogs, bunnies, and even household birds (excluding cockatoos – hmmm), to travel in cabin when accompanied.  Yet, American Airlines, which also allows pets in cabin with accompaniment, is more stringent — permitting only cats and dogs, and with breed restrictions. 

Some carriers charge a one-way ‘pet fee’ per pet and limit the number or weight of pets permitted per traveler, while others charge a fee both ways and don’t discriminate pet quantity, size, or breed.  Obviously, service animals are the exception here and are exempt from these restrictions as they are not considered pets and are guiding the disabled.  Check with your airline beforehand to avoid pet-related travel problems.

You did what with your wiener?

If you’re traveling NOT with your pet and need a friendly boarding facility, there’s a list of local Fur Kids Foundation-approved locations available on their website at furkidsfoundation.org

For more Fido-friendly travel thoughts and pointers, check out pet bloggers DogTipper and You Did What with Your Weiner?

By: Stephanie L. Scarcliff for 82717

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